Category Archives: PSA

Checking In

I just want to check in with as many people as possible after yesterday’s big storm. (We had quite a bit of excitement driving back from Topeka, but it sounds like you had even more excitement right here at home.) Please let me know if you or someone you’ve been in contact with needs help.

Things I Want You To Know As I Leave #4

My colleague, Amanda Baker, wrote what follows about funerals. I’m thankful that she gave me permission to share it with you. Hopefully, it helps to explain why I don’t believe you need me to come back to officiate at funerals after I move.

“It isn’t hard for skilled clergy to preach a funeral for a person we’ve never met. I know that sounds strange, but it’s true. Meeting the family and gathering the stories and tidbits that tell us about a person’s life and witness are some of the best things we get to do, and I promise it’s enough. When we do know the person, we nearly ALWAYS learn things we hadn’t known, and, to tell the truth, we’re much more at risk of skewing the service with our own perception of the person.”

“We bring an understanding of the grief process, a theology of resurrection, the tradition of the Church, and a willingness to listen. You bring the stories and the love, and together they create the right service for the person you love.”

“I know many of you have been to a service where it was wildly evident the officiant didn’t know anything about the deceased. But that isn’t really the problem. The problem is that they didn’t listen to the people who did.”

Things I Want You To Know As I Leave #3

I probably should have shared this when I came, but I’m sharing it now. I fear that we’ve missed some opportunities to connect. I don’t know that you need or want a pastoral visit unless you let me know. There are two reasons for this. 

First, because of HIPAA, I don’t have any way of knowing you are in the hospital unless you let me know or have someone else let me know.

Second, being raised in Kansas, I was taught that you don’t invite yourself over to other people’s homes. Instead, you wait for an invitation. As someone who often wants to be alone when I’m hurting this makes sense to me. If you need or want a visit, I’m more than happy to come but very reluctant to invite myself over.

Third, unless you tell me otherwise, I’ll generally assume that you want me to reply in the same manner that you contact me. So, for example, if you text me, I’ll take it you prefer that I text you back unless you tell me you want a phone call or an in-person visit. 

I’m sharing this even though it’s about time for me to leave because every pastor I know faces this challenge. I’m sharing this in the hope that it might be helpful for your relationships with future pastors.

Things I Want You To Know As I Leave #2

I want you all to know that leaving you is not easy. It’s time to go, but that doesn’t make leaving any easier. It’s hard enough that I’ve been seeing a therapist. I’ve been seeing a therapist because pastoring a church through Covid-19 was stressful and because, after nine years, leaving is hard to do, and I want to leave well. I want to leave at peace and on good terms with as many of you as possible, and I want to leave at peace with myself. Toward this end, I can do the theological work myself, but the therapist has been really helpful with the psychological and emotional work of leaving.

I know that my moving means that you need to process things as well. Please take care of yourselves, and let me know if I can help.

Things I Want You To Know As I Leave #1

On my appointive assessment this past year, I indicated to the Bishop and Cabinet that I was ready for a move. (I thought it best for both you and for me). June 30 will be the last day that I have pastoral responsibility for Abilene First UMC. July 1 will be the first day of my appointment at College Avenue UMC in Manhattan. I will be serving full time there and so I will not be coming back to Abilene to serve in any pastoral role. (Rev. Mik King told me I was welcome to come back for funeral sermons, but I said no because I strongly believe that all my professional time should be rendered to the church to which I am appointed.) I will no longer be your pastor, but Jenny and I hope to remain your friends.

Those of you who met Mik this past Sunday have a sense of how capable and compassionate she is. You’ll be in good hands. Funerals and weddings are services that bind a congregation and a new pastor together and I want your relationship with Mik to be as strong as possible.

Verl Eckman Has Died

Verl Eckman died on February 27, 2022. The funeral will be in the Sanctuary at 10:30 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, March 9, 2022. Graveside services will follow at 2:30 p.m. at the Beverly Cemetery, Beverly, Kansas. The obituary can be found at Please pray for Betty and the rest of the family.

Funeral Services for Ivan Lahr

Ivan Lahr has passed away. His funeral service will be at 10 a.m. this Friday, February 25, 2022 at the Martin-Becker-Carlson Funeral Home with a graveside to follow at the Abilene Cemetery. Ivan was not a member of First UMC, but Pastor John Collins will be officiating.

I Tested Positive for COVID-19

Since Saturday (January 22, 2022) I’ve had what I thought was a cold. I assumed that because Jenny got it first and she tested negative for Covid-19 at work. (There were no tests available at the pharmacy, so I couldn’t get myself tested.) Today Jenny was again tested at work and it came back positive. The pharmacy now has tests, I bought one and it came back positive. I’ve been masking and social distancing, but I have been around a lot of you. The CDC guidelines seem to say that if you’re up on your vaccinations you only need to monitor your health for 10 days. Here are the full guidelines:

As for me, I don’t really feel sick at all at present. I’m on nothing but the regular medications that I’ve been on for years. I have a call into my doctor. I’ll isolate as long as I need to. If I’m still in isolation on Sunday, we’ll figure something out. As always, prayers are appreciated.


After yesterday’s and last night’s winds, I wanted to check and make sure that everyone is ok. The church and the parsonage survived the night with only a few lost limbs. Would you mind letting me know how you’re doing? I would especially like to see if you’re having difficulties. I’m at and 620-252-9622.

Please pray for those who facing the task of cleaning up and rebuilding and those who are still without power.